Consultant: No-shows at superintendent forums not uncommon


In this file photo from September 2011, Allison Schafer, policy director for the N.C. School Boards Association, speaks at a NCSBA District 1 meeting at Camden Middle School. The NCSBA is helping the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education search for a new superintendent.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, November 10, 2018

No one showed up to speak during a community forum the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education held this week to hear input on the search for a superintendent. But a consultant working with the board said that's not unusual when the public also has an opportunity to submit comments online.

The school board is seeking public input about the qualities and types of experience the next superintendent of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools should have. To get it, the board has scheduled a number of forums for both school staff and the community. It’s also posted surveys online for both groups.

The school board held staff forums last week: one at Northside Elementary School on Monday; a second at Sheep-Harney Elementary School on Wednesday; and a third on Thursday at Northeastern High School.

On Thursday night, school officials also held a forum for community members at Weeksville Elementary School. However, no one other than school staff was in attendance.

Allison Schafer of the N.C. School Boards Association, who is working with the school board on the superintendent search, said scheduling a community forum where no one from the public shows up is not uncommon.

"It is very common to only have a few people or no one at all attend community forums if there is a survey opportunity," Schafer said. "Both Pitt County and Guilford had a similar experience — that few people or no one came to speak at forums."

She indicated that’s why it’s critical to also provide surveys, so that people who don’t want to stand up and speak at a forum will still have a way to express their views.

"It is important to your board members that they provide as many opportunities for input as possible and they are hoping to hear from as many interested parties as possible," Schafer said. "While the board is very interested in hearing from those who wish to attend a forum and speak, it also is strongly encouraging folks to complete the available surveys."

Sharon Warden, who chairs the Board of Education, said its members wish to hear from the community and are glad for people to respond in the way they are most comfortable.

"Participation, in any form and of any number, is greatly appreciated and valued," Warden said. "Our desire is to give our school family and our community the opportunity to express their desires by whatever means they feel comfortable.”

She noted that citizens wishing to fill out a survey may do so either on paper or online. She also thanked citizens who’ve already filled out a survey and shared their views.

Citizens who missed Thursday’s forum but want to address the board about the superintendent search will still have several more opportunities. Members of the public may address the board during the public comment period at any upcoming regular board meeting or at other community forums scheduled specifically for the superintendent search. There will be a sign-up sheet at each meeting for those that wish to speak.

Additional community forums for the search are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. in the auditorium at Museum of the Albemarle; Monday, Nov. 26 following the regular board meeting in the multi-purpose room at Northside Elementary School; and Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Pasquotank Elementary School.

Upcoming regular meetings of the board are Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. at Northside Elementary School and Monday, Dec. 17 at 4 p.m. at the school district’s administrative offices.

The online community survey is available on the ECPPS website at www.ecpps.k12.nc.us. Paper copies of the survey can be picked up at district’s main office or at any ECPPS school. Completed paper surveys may be dropped in a specified box at each school.

Community members may also mail completed surveys to Allison Schafer at NCSBA, P.O. Box 97877, Raleigh, NC 27624; email them to Schafer at aschafer@ncsba.org; or fax them to 919-841-4020. All surveys must be completed by Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Schafer and the NCSBA are scheduled to present a summary of the survey results at the school board’s regular board meeting on Monday, Jan. 28.

ECPPS employees are encouraged to complete a separate online survey specifically for staff. They can get details for filling one out through the school system email.

Groups or organizations are encouraged to submit statements about the leadership qualities they want to see in the next superintendent to Schafer by mail, email or fax at the same addresses listed above. Those statements are due by Jan. 14.